Suspending the Employer 401(k) Match

Alicia H. Munnell Annika Sundén

IB#12

Introduction

Charles Schwab & Co.’s decision in March 2003 to suspend its matching contribution to its 401(k) plan made headlines. But Schwab is not the only company to suspend the employer match. This Issue in Brief looks at the nature of the employer match in 401(k) plans, the role that the match plays in individual participation and contribution decisions, the extent to which firms are cutting back on their matching 401(k) contributions, and the implications of the cutbacks for individuals and the plans themselves.